For those wondering how far back employers can go in searching criminal records, I found a great source of info, courtesy of Prison Talk. It’s a link to Employment Screening Resources, one of the companies employers hire to do their background checks. This page shows what’s available in the databases for each state. As you can see, some states go back 7 to 10 years, some go back much further. You can check out your own state and have a better idea of the information available on your charges.
On a related note, the Wall Street Journal did another piece on how increasing numbers of people are losing out on jobs because of poor credit reports. The one bright spot in the story: in the current economy so many people are affected by this that it’s drawn legislative attention. Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) has introduced a bill in Congress that would make it illegal for employers to use credit reports as a reason for not hiring someone. As I wrote here, the EEOC is also taking a closer look at whether the use of background checks in hiring can be discriminatory. So while I wouldn’t expect this either credit or criminal screening to go away, I do think employers are going to have to be a lot more careful about how they use it.
Here’s what one employment attorney has to say. At the same time, some employers seem to be getting even bolder. A recent NYT editorial highlighted two cases the attorney general had brought recently – one against RadioShack for “denying applicants whose files had been sealed, set aside or deemed to be minor.” The other was against a screening company ChoicePoint for creating a program that would automatically rejected applicants who disclosed criminal backgrounds.